“ Derwent Haugh Rd,Swallwell, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, NE16 3BL.Tel: 08701 977283 „
I had only ever heard of Taybarns, until a couple of weeks ago when I was in Newcastle, and decided to go there for a meal.
Taybarns describes itself as 'The Ultimate Value All You Can Eat Family Restaurant' which I would say is an accurate description. The restaurant serves food in a buffet format, and boasts a '34 metre food line' for its customers to choose their food from.
Upon arrival at the restaurant I could see it was a large building, and there was ample parking outside it. Inside Taybarns it was large and roomy and there were many tables-they obviously get very busy during peak hours. We were greeted by an enthusiastic member of staff behind the bar, we ordered our drinks from her and paid for our buffets, and then were shown to our table and told just to help ourselves to the food as and when we wanted to.
As mentioned above, there is a rather long 'food line' at the restaurant from which to choose meals from. One of the main attractions of Taybarns is the choice of food they offer. The food includes freshly made pizzas, roast meat and vegetables, various pasta bakes, different curries, chinese style food, fish and chips, soup, salads, a BBQ section, and several desserts.
I was a bit spoilt for choice when I got there, which did unfortunately lead to me eating an amount of food I am not proud of! I started with some cheese pasta bake, pizza, and salad. There was a large choice of pizzas, pastas, and salads so I'm sure there would have been something for everyone. You can also have a made to order pizza, whereby they make a small one for you with whatever toppings you want. I chose a made to order pizza which took a long time to prepare. I was full by the time it arrived but ate it anyway.
I then went for fish and chips, but I will add here that the fish is a quite small piece of battered fish, rather than a full one, and I just had a few chips. Even I wouldn't be able to eat a full plate of fish and chips as well as lots of other food!
I then had a few other bits of food including some more pasta bake, some soup and bread, and a burger. By this time I was really full but then I ventured over to the dessert section and was again spoilt for choice! The dessert choices included profieroles, cheese cake, carrot cake, chocolate fudge cake, and apple pie, and there was cream, custard and chocolate sauce to go with them. I couldn't decide between cheesecake and profiteroles so I had both and went for some chocolate sauce too.
To drink I had various fizzy drinks which all come with free refills.
All the food was nice but basic. It was what I expected to be honest, the value for money and the large amount of food available made it pretty clear that the food was not going to be gourmet, but at the same time it certainly wasn't bad, and I did enjoy my meal. The fish in particular was really yummy and the pizza was delicious too. The pasta bake tasted quite bland but I enjoyed it too and did have second helpings of it! The desserts again were enjoyable but nothing outstanding. All in all I would say the food reminds me of school dinners in a way, but nice school dinners all the same.
You pay a set fee once you arrive at Taybarns, and this covers all your food whilst you're there. The price varies slightly depending when you go.
It costs £6.20 per person if you go on a weekday before 5:00 pm and then after that time it costs £8.25 a head. Weekends cost slightly more at £8.75 each, which is still great value. For kids you pay £4.20 and most soft drinks are about £2. Many of the drinks choices come with free refills so you can have as much as you want included in the price of one drink.
Obviously as it is a buffet there is no waiting staff who take your order or bring your food over. However they do come over and check you're ok for drinks and that you have everything you need. Everyone working there when I went was friendly and chatty and all generally very nice.
There are only seven Taybarns in the UK and these are located in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Barnsley, Wigan, Coventry, South Shields and Swansea.
The restaurant has only been around for three years so maybe more branches will be opened in the future, but for now, there are many people who will not have one nearby. I only went there because I happened to be in Newcastle, I would not be able to go if I was at home (unless I drove 70 miles just for a meal.)
All in all I enjoyed my meal at Taybarns, despite being too full to move afterwards. It's not somewhere I would go all the time but I'm sure I will go back occasionally when I fancy a good value meal and a wide range of choices where I can eat as much as I want! I think it's a restaurant where you get what you expect and I award it 4 stars.
If you have ever visited the USA you will know that all you can eat buffets are hugely popular there. Indeed the concept is well used in Europe, particularly in Mediterranean resort hotels offering half-board and all-inclusive tariffs.
In the UK the all you can eat buffet seems to be found mostly in Chinese restaurants, or in Pizza Hut at lunchtimes - neither of these places offering anything like the selection of food one can find in an American buffet.
Last year I chanced upon an article on the BBC News website about the rise of the Taybarns pub chain which offers all you can eat buffet meals for reasonable prices. The article focused on the fact that these places offer lots of cheap food for not a lot of money and thus far are located in places viewed as "poor" and suggested that they were encouraging a section of society which allegedly already overeats to simply eat more.
I was intrigued by the concept of Taybarns restaurants and googled them. I discovered there are just seven of them currently open although Whitbread, who own the chain, apparently plan on converting their Brewer's Fayre chain to Taybarns outlets in the future. So for now you can only sample the delights of a Taybarns' meal in Coventry, Barnsley, Newcastle Under Lyme, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, South Shields, Swansea and Wigan.
On a recent trip to the North East I discovered I was staying at a Travelodge just a short drive from the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Taybarns (although it's actually in Gateshead) so I decided I would try out one of these places for myself.
The Gateshead Taybarns pub is located next door to a Premier Inn and is on the Derwenthaugh Road. It is only a short drive from the Gateshead Metro Centre and there are several other hotels nearby including Travelodge and Holiday Inn Express.
You can't actually walk to this Taybarns easily as there are no pavements nearby. Most of this area seems designed solely for the car so if you are a non-driver you may struggle to get to this Taybarns.
The pub is in a long building with a large car park at the front. There is a small seating area outside but this wasn't open when we visited.
Much to my surprise when we arrived there wasn't a queue. I had been concerned that this might be a stressful experience with queues upsetting my daughter but although the restaurant was busy there was no wait to gain entry.
There is a "greeter" on the door who will explain how things work. It costs £8.49 at the weekend and £5.99 before 5.00pm and £7.99 after during the week. Children 10 and under pay £3.99 and it's worth noting that weekend prices apply on bank holidays.
Your first port of call is the bar where the tills are located and you pay upfront and choose your drinks. We opted for the so-called "bottomless" soft drinks at £2.25 each - we were given glasses with ice and shown where the machine was.
There is a small pub area to the right hand side of the bar so if you just fancied a drink, this is where you would sit. It's pretty soulless however - it's reminiscent of a Travelodge bar with a TV showing Sky Sports News and a few fruit machines. I'd be inclined to give this place a miss and seek out a better pub if I had no plans on eating.
Taybarns make copious use of the colour orange in their restaurants and while the tables and chairs are a functional and pleasant dark brown wood, the walls and signs are just a little too orange for me. There is something about orange, no doubt prompted by the over-use of the colour by the Easy group, which screams "cheap" at me, and this was no exception.
However you have to face facts - even at £8.49 each, this is a pretty cheap place to eat whether the interior is orange or not.
The buffet is on one side of the building - it snakes it's way for 34 metres with a huge array of dishes to choose from.
On the other side there are seats and places to pick up plates and cutlery along with the drinks machine offering fizzy drinks for our bottomless glass. There's also a small area offering rides and small game machines for younger children - the kind of things kids love but parents hate for being cash drainers.
So what is on offer at Taybarns?
Well each restaurant has small areas offering different kinds of food.
Best of British has a small carvery area and when we visited turkey and ham were on offer, alongside traditional British fayre such as boiled cabbage, Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes. Chip Shop is self explanatory, and there is also Pizza, Pasta, Grill, Spice Rack, Soup and a pretty extensive Salad selection, with desserts available at the end of this 34 metre array of delights.
The restaurant was quite busy but we found a seat reasonably easily, and we laid claim to our table with cutlery, napkins and our drinks which we had filled up from the self-serve soft drink area before choosing where we would sit.
We visited around 5.30 pm on a Sunday and I suspect we had just missed the Sunday lunch rush, making for a relatively quiet, and as a result reasonably pleasant experience.
Our first port of call was the salad bar, and I was pleased to see a good selection of salad items on offer, including crispy iceberg lettuce, sliced cucumber, tomatoes, sweetcorn, croutons, celery, coleslaw and beetroot. There was also a decent selection of salad dressings, including Ranch, which was a pleasant surprise for me as it's my favourite salad dressing but rather tricky to track down in the UK.
Soup is located beside the salad bar - when we visited there were two options - cream of mushroom and tomato. There is also sliced bread and butter available here. The bread is sliced into small pieces so if you like to dunk your bread into your soup you will probably need to pick up more than one slice.
We didn't try the soup but my daughter and I both really enjoyed our salad and were impressed with what was on offer there.
Going up for hot food was a varied experience however. My daughter made a beeline for the Chip Shop, but was disappointed to see there wasn't actually any fish on offer except for fishcakes. Fortunately she likes fishcakes so she picked up a couple of them along with some chips. In her usual manner she also added pizza to her plate, opting for chicken and sweetcorn pizza.
I went to the Grill area and picked up some prawn skewers and then went to the Spice area which sadly didn't actually have anything particularly spicy on offer. Instead the food was mostly Chinese so I took some boiled rice and added some sweet and sour chicken and some vegetables in black bean sauce to my plate instead.
The prawn skewer was lovely - it consisted of 4 large juicy prawns on a wooden skewer which had been chargrilled. The Chinese food however was a bit of a disappointment. The rice was just plain boiled rice and the vegetables in black bean sauce seemed be predominantly onion with the occasional mushroom. Similarly the sweet and sour chicken seemed to be lacking in chicken.
My daughter thoroughly enjoyed the fishcakes - so much so she went up and got some more - but she wasn't so impressed with the pizza. I must admit I didn't find it looked particularly appetising - despite the fact you can see the chefs preparing the food at Taybarns, there was something a bit "frozen" about the pizzas. I decided not to try one but I did sample the garlic bread, which was basically a pizza base with garlic butter on top. I thought it looked pretty unapptetising and sure enough when I sampled it my suspicions were confirmed.
The chip shop area also had saveloy sausages and small beef and kidney pies, along with mushy peas and curry sauce, but I decided to head back to the Grill area for my next visit to the buffet, this time picking up a chicken skewer and a beef burger. The Taybarns website sings the praises of their burgers so I felt I had to try them out but while they looked quite appetising, upon tasting I felt let down again - they are quite fatty and bland and not really to my taste.
The chicken skewer however was far better - small pieces of white chicken meat, onion and green pepper chargrilled beautifully. It seems Taybarns know how to produce simple food on skewers but perhaps are not quite so good at mastering the art of making a hamburger.
I tried some of the chips from the Chip Shop area this time too, and was impressed - unlike some chips I have had at buffets they were crispy and fresh.
I did consider visiting the Best of British area for a bit of roast meat at the carvery but by now I was getting rather full, as was my daughter, so we decided to pass on the roast ham and turkey on offer. You can also get mashed potato and good ole boiled cabbage here, along with Yorkshire puddings.
Instead we made for the desserts section, and we viewed the cakes on offer, including chocolate cake and Bakewell tart, more traditional puddings such as plain sponge pudding or apple crumble and profiteroles. There is also one of those rather ubiquitous ice cream machines which you use to help yourself but if you want to add toppings you have pay 20p to use the machines, which is a bit of a swizz really.
My daughter opted for chocolate cake, which came as no surprise as it's her favourite dessert. She eschewed the cream in favour of the warm chocolate sauce on offer to add to the chocolate-tastic experience, while I stuck to the profiteroles. Pouring cream is also on offer and I was naughty and added it to my profiteroles.
We both enjoyed our desserts but by now we were stuffed and we decided enough was enough for us.
This isn't haute cuisine and it's not really the sort of place you would be advised to visit if you wanted a quiet dining experience.
The clientele here tend to be families, and as a result the place can be noisy. There are lots of people moving about all the time as they head back to the buffet for food or go off to find a refill for their drink. I had been a little concerned after reading the BBC article that it might be a bit rough and while there was one young woman who reminded me of Cheryl Cole back in the days she was doing "Popstars the Rivals", right down to her Croydon facelift ponytail, you can't judge a book by a cover and she, along with everyone else in there, was polite to the staff and wasn't stuffing her plate up high, quaffing endless alcoholic drinks loudly, and making repeated visits to the buffet.
Stuffing your plate up high is actually subtly discouraged here too - the plates are not particularly small but the implements you use to get your food onto your plate are. So instead of large tongs for getting your chips onto your plate, they are actually very small. Smaller spoons are used for salad bar items too - and you have to admire Taybarns for doing this as it's something I suspect most punters don't even notice.
Similarly the beef and mushroom pies are quite dinky - when I saw them I thought they were little pork pies at first. I did see one person put two of them onto his plate but as they are half sized individual pies you couldn't really blame him.
I had been expecting bunfights over the food - I have sadly experienced this in hotel restaurants in Spain in the past - but this wasn't in evidence at all on my visit - everyone was very polite about waiting their turn and you didn't see groaning plates as people walked about.
The food is cheap however - the only real quality meat on offer was at the carvery and at the grill - but even then the grill seemed to be more about the hamburgers and sausages on offer and less about the skewers.
You won't find steaks here, or much in the way of fish, but you will be able to find something which is healthy if that's what you desire. Even at the dessert station there was fruit on offer if you wanted to watch your waistline. However there is much here that really isn't very good for you.
I also have to mention the staff here. As the place is "help yourself" staff are engaged mainly in clearing up after you, and you are encouraged to use a clean plate on each visit to the buffet. The woman who was in charge of clearing up our area was very polite and hard working, even checking with us that we were enjoying our meal.
Similarly when we visited the toilets, which were reasonably clean, there was a staff member checking the cubicles out. I was pleased to see this as the cubicle I had just vacated was out of toilet paper.
In summary I would say that if you are happy to eat food which is by and large cheap and cheerful then Taybarns might be the place for you. Just be aware that while the food on offer is cheap, much of it is very bland, and quite a lot isn't actually very good for you. As a result perhaps you should keep visits to Taybarns as a rare treat as opposed to a regular place to visit.
I first saw Taybarns when I passed it in the car on the way to the metrocentre, I'd never heard of it before. It seemed quite popular, the car park looked to be full. However, I didn't know what it was and wanted to find out, so when I got home from the metrocentre I typed it into Google and found the official website. It seemed really nice, it's an American style buffet place where you pay a fixed price to eat as much as you like of all different types of food. If you have ever been to America as I have, it is similar to the American chain buffet restaurants Sizzler's and the Golden Corral. It has been taking over the chain Brewster's Fayre, which there was hundreds of all over the country, normally they had a childrens play area attached to them and put their emphasis on entertaining children while serving classic meals. This was the first Taybarns had seen, and there aren't many others in the country; only seven so far although there are two in my local area, within twenty minutes drive.
We decided that we would go as a family on one Saturday morning, so we arrived around 12, when it opened at it was already packed, we only just managed to get a table, so not one for people who like to lie in! The car park was actually fairly small for how many people could fit into the restaurant, so parking could potentially be an issue, we had to circle round a few times before finding a space. When you walked in, you were greeted by a few servers behind the counters, who explained the 'Taybarns experience,' and would charge you for food and drinks. I found it a good idea that you would be paying a fixed price as soon as you arrived since then you can just leave whenever you want, and know the price straightaway.
The prices were £8.49 for the two adults, and £3.99 for the two children (even though we were both well over 10!) we soon found that these were very reasonable prices for the huge variety and amount of dishes available, this wont be as good value if you don't eat too much though. The adult prices used to be lower, but have since went up. Then, we chose to all have the refillable drinks which were around the £2 mark, although we could have also chosen numerous other alcoholic, soft or hot beverages.
We were then shown to a table, and then found the drinks station where you could have unlimited soda (the choices were orange tango, apple tango, lemonade, pepsi and max.) this was great, because of course if you're eating a lot of food, then you will want something to wash it down with.
Then it was time to start choosing our food, it was a very hard choice as there was so much, the buffet table was the length of the restaurant, but was split into a few different parts with freshly prepared food by trained chefs. The chefs were happy to answer any questions that you had about the food.
The sections were salad, soup, rotisserie, grill, carvery, desserts, pizza, wok and pasta. I can only really comment on the sections I had, and I tried to sample a bit of everything but found this very hard as I got full very quickly. However, I did test a few things from other peoples plates (obviously my family not just random people!) so tried to make the most of it.
I started with a small bowl of soup, it was chicken but I could also have chosen another flavour. The flavours change all the time, and there are about 8 that could be there. There was also crusty bread and croutons to go with it. The soup was nice, not too thick so that you would be totally full up, tasted very nice and quite home made and had chunks of chicken in it, which definitely added something to it.
I didn't end up having any pizza, but I did try a bit of my brothers and it just tasted average really like a supermarket frozen one even though you can see the chefs preparing them in front of you. You can get pizza in 6 flavours as well as garlic bread; margheritta, ham&mushroom, ham&pineapple, spicy meat feast, vegetable and pepperoni. Its not really the best place for pizza, if I really wanted pizza then I would go to Pizza Express.
I did have some salad, but this was just put at the side of my plate when I was having other things to feel healthier. The salad isn't really a great point of the restaurant, it was just the basic salad ingredients with various dressings to make your own, and it was very fresh but nothing special.
The wok section of the buffet was Chinese food, although selection was a bit limited here with just 2 main courses and 4 side dishes, it was still delicious. I had some egg fried rice, prawn crackers and noodles, because I'm not too keen on sweet and sour chicken, which was there. Everything was very enjoyable, and I think I went back for more rice to have with something else.
The rotisserie is a section of the restaurant that seems to be very popular, its marinated and roasted chicken and fish, with a variety of sauces. I tried a small piece of the plain chicken with some tikka sauce drizzled over it, and it was perfectly cooked, it tasted really juicy and succulent and had great flavours.
There are also lots of different side orders although they aren't a specific section of the restaurant, just in the middle of it. Its basically just things that you would expect and that they serve at other restaurants, like chips, potato wedges, beans, mashed potatoes and more. They were nice, and made a familiar accompaniment to your meal especially if you have fussy children in your party who prefer to just eat chips, then you can let them do that this time.
The grill is a very popular area of the restaurant, with the favourite burger being here. It is all barbeque style food with sausages, kebabs, skewers and burgers and does really have an authentically barbeque taste, it was very nicely cooked and chargrilled. There were of course also the traditional accompaniments - buns, stir fry and different sauces.
The part of the restaurant which I found the best was the carvery, it had turkey, gammon, cauliflower cheese, stuffing, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrot, broccoli, roast potatoes and boiled potatoes on the day I went, although I didn't try all of these, just the meat, stuffing, Yorkshire pudding and carrot. The meat was done just right, and was bursting with flavour and juices. You are of course allowed to go back for more, unlike other carveries like Toby Carvery.
Finally, the last section and also the section which you would try last is the dessert section. This didn't really seem as high quality as the rest of the restaurant, although it was still delicious. There were many different cakes, sliced up and in bowls that you could have, and there were also profiteroles and fresh fruit salad. However, I'm told that the desserts vary and on different days you can get nicer things. I did try the chocolate fudge cake, with hot chocolate sauce and although it was very nice, it was as it sounds, very sickly.
It is really a restaurant where you serve yourself, there are plates and cutlery around the restaurant for you to collect and then help yourself, although there are a few staff around the actual restaurant itself, waiting to take away your dirty plates or offer you more drinks. The chefs working behind the counter are also very helpful, and will answer any questions you have about the food, as I said above.
The facilities are also very clean as are the toilets, and any spillages were cleaned up straight away by the staff.
Overall, I would definitely recommend that you give this a try. It has something for everyone, and is easier than thinking of a restaurant the whole family will enjoy, since theres such variety here. The only issues could really be with how busy it is, you will have to choose your timing very carefully.